The Hidden Planet on the Other Side of the Sun - Debunked

Tuesday, 24 February 2015 - 4:17PM
Science of Sci-Fi
Astrophysics
Earth
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 - 4:17PM
The Hidden Planet on the Other Side of the Sun - Debunked

For decades, science fiction has been fascinated by the concept of a "counter-Earth," or an Earth-sized planet that's equidistant from our Sun, but on the other side. Since we're in the same orbit, the Sun constantly blocks this planet from our view. John Norman wrote no less than 32 sci-fi novels on the topic, and two 2011 films- Another Earth and Melancholia- both featured this "hidden planet" emerging from behind the sun and hurtling towards Earth. But could this happen in real life? Could there be another Earth-sized planet hidden behind our Sun?

 

I mean, no. That's the answer. And now Universe Today's Frasier Cain has made a snarky and well-informed video telling us just that:

 

 

"Well, could this happen? Could there be another planet in a stable orbit, hiding behind the Sun? The answer, as you probably suspect, is NO. No. Nooooo. Just no."

 

Technically, he concedes, the existence of the planet is not at all impossible, but as a result of our advanced technology and the laws of technology, it wouldn't be able to elude detection for a significant period of time.

 

"If some powerful and mysterious flying spaghetti being magically created another planet and threw it into orbit, it would briefly be hidden from our view because of the Sun. But we don't exist in a Solar System with just the Sun and the Earth. There are those other planets orbiting the Sun as well. As the Earth orbits the Sun, it's subtly influenced by those other planets, speeding up or slowing down in its orbit."

 

 Counter Earth

[Credit: Zhatt]

 

As a result of these gravitational effects, or perturbation, the presence of that planet would have an impact on our orbit. As our planet's orbit sped up, we would eventually catch sight of this planet on our journey around the Sun. These effects would become more and more pronounced, and if we were truly equidistant from the Sun, then our orbits would eventually collide. Best-case scenario, we miss each other and are expelled into different stable orbits. Worst-case, we collide and merge into a Super-Earth, destroying all life on both planets in the process.

 

"What if there was [sic] originally two half-Earths and they collided and that's how we got current Earth! Or 4 quarter Earths, each with their own population? And then BAM. One big Earth. Or maybe 64 64th Earths all transforming and converging to form VOLTREARTH."

 

Although there are bodies that can share a stable orbit, one would need to be exponentially smaller than the other, which does not satisfactorily fulfill the Counter-Earth concept. So in conclusion, "it was a pretty clever idea. Unfortunately, the forces of gravity conspire to make this hidden planet idea completely impossible. Most importantly, when someone tells you there's a hidden planet on the other side of the Sun, just remember these words:

No.

Nooooo.

No."

Science
Space
Science of Sci-Fi
Astrophysics
Earth

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